Whether creating an art depot that looks like a mixing bowl, or a shopping mall shaped like a mountain, MVRDV always puts a unique spin on its projects. For Rotterdam’s Harbour Experience Centre, the firm has designed an eye-catching building consisting of five stacked offset box-like volumes. It will boast impressive sustainable design too, including solar and wind power, and the use of recycled materials for construction.

The Harbour Experience Centre will measure 3,533 sq m (roughly 38,000 sq ft). Though the arrangement of its boxes looks haphazard, they are going to be situated so that generous glazing will focus views on the nearby North Sea or sand dunes.

The Harbour Experience Centre will offer views of the North Sea and nearby sand dunes


The interior’s five floors will include a cafe, a restaurant, and an exhibition space, while at the center will be an atrium with a sculpture and model of the Port of Rotterdam. The building’s exterior will also feature a bright red staircase that provides access to a rooftop terrace.

According to MVRDV, the building’s construction will be “energy neutral.” It does indeed sound remarkably green and will consist of steel sourced from demolished structures, facade panels made from partly recycled materials, and excellent insulation.

It’s designed to be easily disassembled and reused or recycled, and the facade panels will be returned to the manufacturer once the building ceases to be required at some point in the future. And concrete piles are not used for the foundation, which is designed to leave no trace when it’s gone. Furthermore, it will get power from a total of 266 solar panels and a wind turbine.

The Harbour Experience Centre's required electricity will be produced by 266 solar panels, as well as a wind turbine
The Harbour Experience Centre’s required electricity will be produced by 266 solar panels, as well as a wind turbine


“We think of the Harbour Experience Centre as a machine to reveal the incredible world of the port,” says MVRDV’s founding partner Winy Maas. “It’s low-cost, it’s stripped back, you can see some of the building’s structure when you’re inside. But it therefore does its job almost ruthlessly – just like the machinery of the port itself. Every part of the design is geared towards engaging people and then educating them about their surroundings. In that way, it not only teaches people about the Port of Rotterdam, but envelops them in the spirit of the port itself.”

The Harbour Experience Centre is expected to open to visitors in 2024.

Source: MVRDV

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